The initiative with Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and recycling and waste management firm, Viridor, will put recycled black plastic into new food grade packaging and the volume of material will be increased over the next 18 months at Viridor’s recycling facility in Kent.
Andrew Osborne-Smith, regional CEO, Faerch Plast UK & Ireland, said the initiative is another step towards enabling the plastics sector to deliver circular economy targets.
“The focus is on black plastics as they have been traditionally very difficult to recycle,” he said.
“Existing recycling systems cannot identify black plastics so they have ended up in landfill or energy recovery facilities.
“This is why Faerch Plast, working with its partners, has been running a pilot that has found it is not only technically possible to identify black plastics, but that this material can be transformed back into new plastic packaging.
"The solution for black plastics has wider benefits – mixed-coloured plastic can already be easily recycled into black products. Making black plastics recyclable will ensure that greater volumes of other coloured plastics.”
Paul Ringham, commercial director, Viridor, said the team has been working on the project for six months prior to launching the initiative.
Polymer reprocessing plant
It claims black plastic from household mixed waste can be recycled into mixed colored ‘jazz’ flakes to create food grade packaging and was proven during tests at Viridor’s facilities, a plastics recycling plant in Rochester, Kent, and a polymers reprocessing plant in Skelmersdale, Lancashire.
It will start putting the material through the new process next month, adding black to the colored plastic stream, which has already been recycled.
The flakes and pellets will then be taken to Faerch Plast’s manufacturing facility in Ely, Cambridgeshire into new food grade packaging.
“It has been rewarding to see the whole supply chain collaborating on this project to demonstrate that black PET trays are recyclable,” added Ringham.
“However, more work needs to be done to achieve high and sustainable levels of tray recycling with further investment in commercially viable waste collection systems and sorting and recycling facilities for PET pots, tubs and trays.”